Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born in Tacoma in 1953. She attended Mount Holyoke College, where she began to write poetry.
Schnackenberg is the author of six books of poetry: Heavenly Questions: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); The Throne of Labdacus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), which received the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry and was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book; Supernatural Love: Poems, 1976–1992 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000); A Gilded Lapse of Time (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1992); The Lamplit Answer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1985); and Portraits and Elegies (D. R. Godine, 1982).
Schnackenberg’s other honors include the 2004 Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, the 1998 Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 1984 Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy in Rome, and the Lavan Younger Poets Award, judged by Robert Fitzgerald. While she was a student at Mount Holyoke, Schnackenberg twice won the Glascock Award for Poetry. In 1985, the college awarded her an honorary doctorate.
In the New York Times Book Review, William Logan described Schnackenberg, who is associated with New Formalism, as “the most talented American poet” of her generation, and one who employs “an enriched and image-soaked language.”
Schnackenberg has been a Christensen Visiting Fellow at St Catherine’s College at Oxford University, a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities.
Schnackenberg lives in Boston.